4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
To marvel implies a much greater sense than to be ‘surprised.’ Here’s a working definition: to be filled with wonder or astonishment.
It is both a verb and a noun, yet when we see it applied to Jesus in the form of a verb, we know then that He was truly in one of two places: one where faith was strong, or one where it was not.
How could the Messiah, who came from the Father to deliver us from evil, be made to marvel at our faithlessness? If He in fact knew what was in a man, and never wavered from His mission, and seen the heart of the people toward Him, why would He be surprised?
Verse 4 tells us He already knew that, but Verse 6 seems like He didn’t.
I suggest it was quiet, more like a silent grief. Who wouldn’t choose salvation of their soul, redemption from the grave, and eternal life? Who would choose separation from an omnipotent and loving Creator? Having lost our earthly fathers, who would choose to not be with their Heavenly Father?
Here was the Promised, at the height of His ministry, in the midst of His own, doing signs and wonders and miracles, turning sinners to G-d and reaching the lost, willing to give of Himself to the point of death to atone for sins He never committed, and yet…
“He marveled at their unbelief.”
We live in a world of beauty. Who would willingly leave Eden? The vistas of our planet, the power of its nature, the temperateness and variety of its climes, and the comforts of life blind us to the Truth that there is something better.
We also live in a world of evil: we use words like ‘exclusive’, and ‘illegal.’ We worship mammon, forgetting the treasure is the King’s. (Haggai 2:8), we enslave and slaughter, and give over to the lusts of our flesh, and that which G-d has allowed us to have dominion over, we have used to replace Him. Science is used as an argument against an infinitely creative G-d, though we have not fathomed the depths of His universe. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is an atheist, titled his series: The Inexplicable Universe. He mocks G-d and Christians, yet the title speaks for itself. (As Pilate said, ‘What I have written, I have written,” not knowing the truth of it).
The unbelieving claim a morality with no compass; it is as selective and subject to imperfection as sectarian faith, and in fact, leads to a belief that one’s own goodness is sufficient, so there is no need to refocus, repent, or return to anything other than their own center. The appeal is in the ritual, the mantra, the chanting, the incense, the doing of things.
Grace requires nothing, and is undeserved, and claims a true and lasting forgiveness that allows us to stand blameless before the Father on the day of judgment.
Who wouldn’t choose that?
And then we have the story of the centurion:
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
A pagan’s humility and faith in the Son of G-d made Jesus marvel. He found Himself in a place where faith was strong.
Do we really want the Son of G-d to come to us, cleanse us, reveal our hearts, renew our minds, and put right spirits within us?
Then let us humble ourselves, and believe, and give the Prophet honor among us.
Therefore I pray:
In the times we forget Your promises, let us remember that judgment starts with the children of G-d, and that many who say to You ‘Lord, lord,’ will be denied, and that some who have never uttered Your name will be grafted in, because they have proven to be worthy workers by doing the Father’s will.
It is those, You tell us, who are Your brothers and sisters (Matthew 12:50)
Your power and love were such that it touched the heart of pagans, and cleaved the heart of Pharisees.
We are but sheep, and sheep are easy to pick off, easy to deceive, easy to kill, and we have an enemy in the fold.
But You are the Good Shepherd, and assure us no one can snatch us from Your hand.
I ask also, Lord, that You keep us from leaping out of Your grasp.
Forgive me for the times when the faith of pagans outstripped my own, where the praises of rocks replaced my own, and I have placed an idol on the altar where the Father’s Word should be.
Let us remember that prophets don’t speak of time, but events, and the events we see now are the events You foretold, and You tell us Your word is truth (John 17:17).
We would be sanctified by it, and live in the year of the Lord’s favor, saved by faith in You from the day of the Lord’s wrath.
In the days ahead, Lord Jesus, I would have You marvel at my turnaround, and rejoice in my repentance. Anoint me once more, and sing over me, and purify me, that I may be redeemed from the power of the grave, and live eternally with You.
Only say the word, Lord, and I shall be healed.
I would be a sign, a wonder, and a testimony to the Father’s will, that all who see my light through You will marvel at it, and turn to G-d, giving Him the glory.
Let it be done to us as You have said.